HEKS: Managing Content for Compassion

It’s been more than 70 years since HEKS, the aid organization of the Swiss Protestant Churches, has been coming to the assistance of those in need internationally. Founded in 1946, it prizes the dignity of the individual and champions universal human rights.

The organisation focuses on internationally combatting the causes of hunger, poverty and injustice: helping to establish sustainable development in rural communities and provide emergency relief after natural disasters or armed conflicts. As HEKS have such an international outreach, supporting hundreds and thousands of people through their many different projects, they require a content solution that enables them to maintain a clear and well-defined structure.

Usage at a Glance

  • 30,000 digital assets in a content archive which is always growing.
  • 11,849 hours of volunteer work carried out by 210 staffers in 2019.
  • 888,000 people around the world benefited from HEKS projects in 2019.
  • 95% of HEKS donors perceive the organisation as being transparent.

Maintaining a Transparent & Trusted Identity

Picturepark assists HEKS in communicating their values of humility, compassion and respect.

For HEKS, identity is important. Their identity extends across all that they do; whether it be in projects, communications or community work. Naturally, it is important for them to convey identity via content. The use of content paints a picture of an organisation and Picturepark assists HEKS in communicating their values of humility, compassion and respect.

As HEKS carry out a great deal of different types of work, in a variety of different nations; maintaining and properly structuring content is of great importance. HEKS acts as an umbrella organization for many different churches, many of whom sponsor specific projects over a fixed time period. HEKS therefore always needs access to content which specifically focuses upon the project in hand: they are always precise in communicating updates to sponsors and other stakeholders. Picturepark assists in ensuring that the right content is accessible to the right users, through its use of semantic relationships and search suggestions: which both help to provide more meaningful search results.

Delicately Handling Sensitive Content

As HEKS deal with many types of content, some of which features humanity at its most fragile, it is vital to the organisation that it is handled carefully. A key area in which HEKS can utilize the power of Picturepark for this purpose is by enabling it to flag sensitive content. Content can be flagged manually or carried out automatically with the assistance of a smart tag. Doing so ensures that flagged content can not be seen or used: avoiding any mishaps, such as those related to personally identifiable information and privacy regulations.

HEKS is further supported by Picturepark in this area; as it allows for a high level of granularity over which users groups can access content and the abilities granted over the usage of said content. That includes key areas such as editing metadata, removal and replacement. As a result, the power is fully in the domain of HEKS over which internal departments have access to select content.

HEKS’ identity is built and communicated through their many publications. Whether it be newsletters, short films, fundraisers, annual reports or their own magazine ‘Handeln’ (English translation: ‘Trade’): all of which require highly relevant content, related to specific projects and themes. The publication Handeln promotes their new and ongoing projects around the world; providing its audience with a way to connect with them. Content is sortable and easy-to-find, thanks to Picturepark’s variety of advanced filtering options, which provide a range of different content views: adapting to different use-cases, rather than requiring the users to do the adapting.

Ready to Act Under Difficult Circumstances

HEKS operate in regions which are remote and in those which are prone to political or social unrest. In these locations, internet connectivity is all too often at best, patchy and at worst, completely unavailable. As a result, HEKS must be versatile in the ways in which they take-in content from photographers and film crews. That may include content being sent over the only-available channels such as WhatsApp, the defacto communication network in Africa, or even by physical media sent via post or courier.

To use an example, content distributors in Ethiopia during 2020 were faced with a long internet shutdown. As a result, photographers documenting the work of HEKS in the region were forced to save their content onto USB drives, which were transported physically to offices and only then uploaded to Picturepark.

Whatever the source, whatever the resolution of content: HEKS can save, tag and sort through their entire content archive.

With so many different sources, Picturepark plays a vital role for HEKS in acting as a centralised content platform. Whatever the source, whatever the resolution of content: HEKS can save, tag and sort through their entire content archive. Then from there, they can easily distribute it onwards to other users or even different systems, thanks to Picturepark’s API first design.

Journalists both in Switzerland and across the world are interested in the work of HEKS. As a result, there is a constant requirement for HEKS to be able to react to content requests. HEKS place a great importance on using the specific content which links to a certain project. Rather than having journalists self-service themselves via a Press Portal, HEKS use Picturepark's share functionality for providing specific content with journalists; maintaining a high level of control specifically over which content is shared, who it is shared with and how long is it shared for.

Why is Being Project Oriented Paramount?

The vast majority of HEKS’ work is categorized under projects. Maintaining an extensive content archive effectively is only made possible if content is organized. Individual churches will often sponsor projects, many of which happen over a two or three year period. During this time, there will of course be many changes and new content too. It’s important for HEKS to be able to quickly and effectively deliver content from Picturepark in updates to those sponsors.

Organisations that are considered "not-for-profit" by the tax authorities are eligible for an NPO discount (excluding government agencies and bodies but including educational institutions, if not-for-profit). Please contact Picturepark sales if you are interested.

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Picturepark’s data modelling capabilities make it possible to fully adapt to the project-oriented approach of HEKS’ content. Using Picturepark Smart Tags enables HEKS to find content in multiple ways. That may include filtering for content from projects by their subject, their region whether it be loose (by continent) or exact (by country), any sponsor organisation and the specific project code or name. Of course, when it comes to the filtering options in Picturepark, the sky’s the limit and HEKS can customize them as freely as they see useful.

HEKS & the Future of Philanthropic Content

The summer of 2020 was a key date for HEKS’ content archive, it marked the date when they migrated to the new generation of Picturepark: the Picturepark Content Platform. Making this change opened up a host of new opportunities for HEKS.

From a visual point of view: HEKS have reported that the new Content Platform user interface is not only more visually appealing but also that makes finding content more intuitive: through advancements in filtering and searching. Additionally, HEKS being a Swiss based company are naturally multilingual: with content and publications in German, English and French. The Picturepark Content Platform assists them in managing multilingual content, as it allows for different languages to be tracked easily using lists.

HEKS intends to use Picturepark for additional types of content in the future and to add more automation, so that they can spend more time supporting communities with compassion.

Special thanks go to Toni Bernet and Julie Lovens at HEKS, who provided information for the purposes of this case study.

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